Gov't Spending $544,188 to Promote HPV Vaccine

July 24, 2013 - 9:47 AM

HPV Vaccine

A nurse holds up a vial and box for the HPV vaccine, brand name Gardasil, at a clinic in Kinston, N.C. on Monday March 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Daily Free Press, Charles Buchanan)

( - The National Institutes of Health has awarded $544,188 to the University of California this year for a study on how to boost the number of young girls getting Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccinations in Los Angeles County.

Although the federal Centers for Disease Control says the benefits of the Gardasil vaccine outweigh the risk, it counts 772 serious adverse side effects, including 32 deaths, among the millions of doses administered to young girls between June 2006 and December 2008.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is assisting in the study, titled, “Increasing HPV Vaccine Uptake in a Low Income Ethnic Minority Population,” by giving callers information on HPV clinics when they call the department for information or services.

According to the grant description, the "intervention" -- which takes place by telephone -- is directed at mothers of age-eligible girls (11-18 years old). These mothers will be given basic information about the vaccine, "individually tailored messages to address callers' barriers to HPV vaccination," and referral to a clinic offering low cost/free vaccines.

Project Leader Dr. Roshan Bastani told that Los Angeles County wants age-eligible girls in their area to get the HPV vaccine. "You can’t directly do this for minors, so when the mothers call in, we ask the women who call in if they have an age-eligible daughter, and if they do, then they go into giving them the information on why it’s (HPV vaccine) important.”

“When they call in, not only do we tell them about the HPV, we also make a specific referral close to the girl’s school, the mom’s work, wherever, where they can take the daughter to get the free vaccine,” Bastani added.

The interventions are performed in six languages: English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean and Armenian.

“It’s a randomized design. It’s every other week, so women calling on the 'intervention weeks' will get the intervention, women calling on the control weeks will not, Bastani said.

“The vaccine is in three doses. We make a first call giving them enough time to see if they got the first dose, then we call back later to see if they completed the three-dose vaccine.”

Bastani tells that the goal of study is simple: “Its to see if a simple intervention delivered through an existing county service can substancialy increase HPV vaccine uptake among low-income girls in Los Angeles County.”

The HPV vaccine protects against four different types of the virus, which are sexually transmitted and can cause various forms of cervical, anal, penile, and throat cancers.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it continues to recommend HPV vaccination -- "based on information available today."

Along with the Food and Drug Administration, the CDC examined adverse effects from the Gardasil HPV vaccine from June 2006 through December 2008.

Of the 23 million doses administered during that period, it counted 12,424 adverse events, 776 of which it described as "serious," including 32 deaths.

Neverthelss, the CDC concluded that the vaccine's benefits continue to outweigh the risks at the present time.

CDC says it continues to "closely monitor" the vaccine's safety and will take additional action, if warranted, to protect the public.

There has been much debate about the role the government has played in advocating the HPV vaccine to minors.